Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Do You Want to See Real Courage?

 This is signed by professors who think math matters:

We write to express our alarm over recent trends in K-12 mathematics education in the United States. All of us have first-hand experience of the role that clear mathematical thinking has played in advancing information technology and American economic competitiveness. We all also share the urgent concern that the benefits of a robust mathematical education, and the career opportunities it opens up, should be shared more widely between students of all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, and economic status. We fully agree that mathematics education “should not be a gatekeeper but a launchpad.”

However, we are deeply concerned about the unintended consequences of recent well-intentioned approaches to reform mathematics education, particularly the California Mathematics Framework (CMF). Such frameworks aim to reduce achievement gaps by limiting the availability of advanced mathematical courses to middle schoolers and beginning high schoolers. While such reforms superficially seem “successful” at reducing disparities at the high school level, they are merely “kicking the can” to college. While it is possible to succeed in STEM at college without taking advanced courses in high school, it is more challenging. College students who need to spend their early years taking introductory math courses may require more time to graduate. They may need to give up other opportunities and are more likely to struggle academically. Such a reform would disadvantage K-12 public school students in the United States compared with their international and private-school peers. It may lead to a de facto privatization of advanced mathematics K-12 education and disproportionately harm students with fewer resources.

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